Air pollution warning for parts of southern Minnesota, linked to crop harvest

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An air pollution warning has been issued for southwest and south-central Minnesota, which could bring possible health complications.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency reported that as of 11 a.m., air quality had reached a level considered unhealthy for sensitive groups in an area covering Marshall, Redwood Falls, New Ulm and Hutchinson.

A pollution advisory was issued and is likely to stay in place through Wednesday morning, when increasing wind speeds and rain are then expected to get rid of the pollution.

The MPCA told BringMeTheNews that it is confident the air particles are not toxic in origin, and are more likely to be the result of crop harvesting in rural parts of the state, which have been exacerbated by the "warm, dry, and windy weather."

The Associated Press reported Tuesday that Minnesota farmers have been taking advantage of favorable fall weather to get on with harvesting, and are currently four days ahead of the five-year average for the crop harvest.

The MPCA is urging the elderly, children, those who suffer from cardiovascular or respiratory diseases, and those who are participating in activities requiring heavy exertion to minimize their exposure to sources of air pollution – such as wood fires, candles and heavy-duty traffic – and consider postponing vigorous activities.

At-risk individuals who have prolonged exposure to polluted air could experience chest pain, shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing or fatigue, the MPCA says.

As of 3 p.m. Tuesday afternoon, air quality had improved in the south of the state, but was still at a level of 96 in Marshall, not far from the reading of 101, at which point it becomes harmful to sensible groups."

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